By Breeders’ Cup Notes Team — Laurel River – Riding a three-race winning streak, Juddmonte Farms’ homebred colt Laurel River will step into Grade 1 company for the first time in his career Saturday in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert opted to keep him at 8f, where he has won both of his starts. The son of leading sire Into Mischief, raced once as a 2yo. After a six-month break he broke his maiden at Santa Anita on April 3, 2021. He ran second in the Laz Barrera Stakes and after another short break faded to fifth in a 5½-furlong allowance race when his rider lost his crop in mid-stretch.
Baffert tried him next in a mile allowance on Sept. 6, which he won by 11 ½ lengths. He has won both starts since returning to the races this summer.
“I gave him some time off and brought him back at Del Mar and ran him in an allowance race and he won,” Baffert said. “Then he won the Pat O’Brien at seven-eighths. I was going to stretch him out. If Flightline hadn’t been around I would have run him in the Pacific Classic, but I didn’t want to run him against that horse. I’m going to run him fresh right into the Dirt Mile.
“He’s a very nice horse. He’s getting better. We gave him the time. He’s bred right, by Into Mischief. Juddmonte has unbelievable breeding. I think he’ll be very competitive in here.”
Laurel River is out of the Empire Maker mare Calm Water, who is a full sister to four-time Grade 1 winner Emollient. He drew Post six and will be ridden for the first time by Irad Ortiz Jr.
Baffert is winless in 10 starts in the Dirt Mile.
QATAR RACING SPRINT
Jackie’s Warrior – J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s reigning Champion Male Sprinter stayed in the barn Tuesday after completing his final work Monday, an easy 3f move.
The 4yo son of Maclean’s Music is preparing to make his third appearance in the Breeders’ Cup after competing in the 2020 Juvenile and 2021 Sprint. He is the only horse to win Grade 1 races at Saratoga for three consecutive years. He won 2020 Hopeful, the 2021 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes and the 2022 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap.
“He’s a very special horse,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “I can’t think about Jackie’s Warrior without the fact that he did something at Saratoga, no horse before him was done, how that separates him from everybody.
“It is a little sad to think this is the last time we get to run him. But, he’s given us so much we’re just very proud of who he is.”
FILLY & MARE SPRINT
Ce Ce – Bo Hirsch’s Ce Ce galloped 1 ¼m Tuesday as she prepares to defend her title in the Filly & Mare Sprint in her final career start.
“It looks like she’s just as good as she was last year,” trainer Michael McCarthy said. She’s kind of followed the same pattern to get here. It was little bit more of a boutique size field last time in the Breeders’ Cup and obviously a full field here on Saturday. She’s doing as well as we can ask for. We’re happy with the draw (post four) and everything is going well.”
Edgeway – Hronis Racing’s Edgeway was 16-1 last year when she ran second to Ce Ce in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Del Mar. This time around, she is 15-1 on the morning line for the 7f race and a rematch with Ce Ce. Just as last year, Edgeway will break from post two.
“She is a little more inside than I would have liked but the speed is inside of her,” trainer John Sadler said, referring to Slammed, who drew the rail.
In Edgeway’s most recent start, she was coming off a 3 ½-month layoff to win the Rancho Bernardo over Slammed.
“She (Edgeway) was flattered by Slammed when she came back to win the race here (the Thoroughbred Club of America),” Sadler said. “At Del Mar, they dueled the length of the stretch in one of the best races of the meet.”
Sadler said the break from the Derby City Distaff in May to the Rancho Bernardo and then the 10-week break to the Breeders’ Cup was by design.
“Timing wise this is very similar to last year,” Sadler said. “She runs well fresh and we are in good shape.”
Juan Hernandez, who rode Edgeway for the first time in the Rancho Bernardo, has the mount Saturday.
FANDUEL JUVENILE presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance
Cave Rock, National Treasure – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will send out two runners, Cave Rock and National Treasure, Friday in search of his record-setting sixth victory in the Breeeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Both colts galloped Tuesday morning at Keeneland.
Baffert, 69, is tied with D. Wayne Lukas with five victories in the 1 1/16th miles dirt race. Beginning in 1996, Baffert has saddled 31 horses in the Juvenile and has a record of 5-4-0. He secured the fifth victory last year with Corniche, who was subsequently voted the 2yo male champion.
Cave Rock, co-owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, is unbeaten in his three starts under Juan Hernandez. He drew Post three and is the 4-5 morning-line favorite.
“He’s been very impressive in all his starts,” Baffert said. “He’s a big, strong horse and very mature.”
National Treasure, co-owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson and Stonestreet Stables, broke his maiden in his debut and was second, by 5 ¼ lengths, to Cave Rock in the American Pharoah Stakes on Oct. 8.
“He’s very talented but he’s not as mature,” Baffert said. “He’s not there yet. He might be in the next few months, but I think he deserves a chance to run in it. He’s got just raw talent right now. We’re figuring him out. We know Cave Rock. He just breaks and goes and has speed. He’s a big, powerful horse.”
National Treasure will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. He drew the outside post in field of 10 and is 8-1 on the morning line.